Types of Public Schools

Explore the different types of public schools, from charter to language immersion, and learn about the unique pros and cons of each type. Is a co-ed or single sex classroom best for your child? Charter school or magnet? Read expert advice and get valuable tips on the various public education programs available and how to choose what works best for your family.
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The ideas behind the development of charter schools began in the 1950s. However, credit for beginning the charter school movement generally goes to former American Federation of Teachers President Albert Shanker. Shanker called for reform to public schools in the late 1980s that inspired states to pass legislation permitting the establishment of charters. Minnesota took the lead in 1991, creating the nation’s first legislated charter school, which opened the following year.
The charter school movement was borne out of the nation’s desire to improve education. This has long been a point of emphasis in our country, and is often a hallmark of presidential debates and congressional action. However, determining the best way to prepare the country’s youth for post-secondary education and the workforce can sometimes be difficult to do. Parents have many options for their child’s education, including charter schools, traditional public schools, private schools, magnet schools or homeschooling. But when it comes to the debate between charter schools and public schools, recent data collected by Mathematica Policy Research reveals that charter schools seem to be doing a better job of graduating students and preparing them for life after high school.
Educational Benefits
According to Mathematica, the graduation rate at charter schools is between 7-11 percent higher than public schools in the same area. Even for at-risk students, who may not have the financial, social, or family resources that other students enjoy, graduation is more likely at a charter school. Furthermore, students who graduate from charter schools are 10-11 percent more likely to enroll in college. Better still, charter school graduates are more likely to complete at least two years of study at a two or four-year college than their public-school peers.
Charter schools have a good track record of producing results, even in the most difficult circumstances. Charters in low-income and urban school districts post significant student gains in achievement in math, science, social studies and reading. These gains are directly attributed to the out-of-the-box thinking upon which charter schools are based. Many schools use longer school days, tougher . . . read more
Public school was established to provide a free education for everyone living in the United States. It has been dubbed the great equalizer, providing the same opportunities for all students, regardless of race, background or income level. However, some public schools are bucking this philosophy, at least for students that live outside their immediate boundaries. One of the recent trends catching fire in public schools across the country is the charging of tuition to students living outside district boundaries. Fair? It depends on who you ask.
Tuition Spreading, Rates Increasing
Business Insider reports that many school districts across the country charge tuition to students who want to attend the school from outside the district. What is interesting about this latest trend is the amount of tuition charged, which is increasing exponentially at some in-demand schools. While the typical going rate for out-of-district transfers ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, some schools are charging students $10,000 or more for a year of education.
The new rates are comparable to those at private schools, which some public institutions willingly admit they are trying to compete with. The school board president for the Rye Brook District in New York told Business Insider, “You get a first-rate education. You hear about charter schools. You hear about private schools. You hear about parochial schools. This is just another option.”
Rye Brook recently announced plans to charge tuition rates of $21,500 for slots in middle and high schools for the upcoming school year. The going rate for K-6 schools will be more than $19,000 per year. Rye Brook believes it has a lot to offer students in exchange for the lofty tuition rate. According to CBS New York, the schools feature a multitude of awards, impressive athletic facilities and plenty of technology resources.
While this Westchester county appears to be charging high rates for an education, other districts in the area are charging even more. Edgemont and Bronxville are both cited in the Business Insider report as charging tuition rates ranging . . . read more
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College is the future dream for many high school students, but that dream is more likely to become a reality for some students than others. Now, high school students in Newark have an option that can help them beat the odds and make that college dream a reality. Bard College has brought its proven track record of success to a Newark high school, offering students the chance to experience the rigors of college academics firsthand within the secure confines of a high school environment.
Bard High School Early College Newark
Bard High School Early College Newark (BHSEC Newark) is the latest in a series of college-based high schools created through Bard College. According to the BHSEC website, this school first opened in 2011 as a partnership between the college and Newark Public Schools. BHSEC Newark offers a rigorous, college-level curriculum combined with traditional high school academics that prepare students for life after high school.
What makes the Newark school unique is its commitment to enrolling students from a diverse range of backgrounds, giving students the chance to excel academically that might not have the chance otherwise. Students come from all Newark neighborhoods, including disadvantaged areas like Newark’s West Ward, where drugs and shootings are almost a way of life for the youth residents of the community. The New York Times reports that BHSEC Newark is positioned across the street from a tire shop and bail bond business, seemingly to breathe fresh life into a troubled neighborhood.
BHSEC Newark is the third Bard high school to open. The other two are situated in New York City, with locations in Manhattan and Queens. Both are considered part of the New York City Public Schools system, and welcome students from all five of the boroughs in New York City. The schools are characteristically small, with a ratio of around 20 students to every teacher in the classroom.
Students that are admitted into the Bard schools will typically complete their high school requirements within their first two years. If they successfully . . . read more
In the traditional school, curriculum is chosen by school board members and taught by faculty – usually standing in front of a classroom of students. Students can choose to engage in the lesson, or not, but they rarely have much say in what or how they learn. Until now. One high school in Massachusetts has set course on a whole new kind of learning adventure, where students choose the subjects and run the classroom as they see fit? Does it work? Let’s find out.
The Independent Project
Time recently reported on an innovative program taking place at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Massachusetts. The program, aptly dubbed the “Independent Project,” offers students a chance to determine how and what they study during school hours. The project was started by a student who became frustrated seeing his friends lose interest in class and simply stop making the effort to perform academically.
Sam Levin complained to his mother about the problem, who promptly suggested Levin start his own school. The high school student began with a garden on school property that was fully tended by students on a voluntary basis. When Levin saw how readily students put forth effort on a project all their own, he decided to expand the garden concept to other aspects of the school experience.
“I was seeing the exact opposite in school,” Levin told Time. “Kids weren’t even doing the things they needed to do to get credit. There was something at odds with students getting up to work for no credit or money [on the garden] at 7 in the morning, but not wanting to wake up to read or do a science experiment. I saw the really amazing and powerful things that happened when high school students stepped it up and were excited about something.”

Initial Success Breeds Expansion
Levin worked with Monument Mountain high school counselor Mike Powell to expand the program, which was officially approved by the school board and launched in 2010. Although Levin has since graduated from the school and is . . . read more
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